UFCW 1518 met with Vince Ready last week to begin proceedings under Section 106 of the Labour Relations Code. Labour Minister Harry Bains appointed Mr. Ready as Special Officer when talks between the union and Sobeys faltered in April.
“We needed the government to intervene. Sobeys announced 10 store closures, tabled a concessions-only set of proposals and then refused to respond to the union’s proposals,” explained President Ivan Limpright. As Special Officer, Mr. Ready has the power to mediate, arbitrate and make binding orders.
On May 28, the bargaining committee met with Mr. Ready, and the union’s retail consultant Andrea Elliot presented her recovery plan for Safeway. UFCW 1518 retained Ms. Elliot last year to develop the recovery plan based on her research and data gathered by the Fight Back Action Team. Ms. Elliot made a similar presentation in November to 200 activists and stewards at the #MembersFirst bargaining conference.
Entitled Rebuilding Safeway in British Columbia, the recovery plan identifies opportunities for growth and financial improvement in many areas of in the operation of Safeway, including the customer loyalty program, private label penetration, computer automated ordering, store merchandising, all of which are aimed at regaining market share. Through mismanagement and ineptitude, Sobeys squandered two-thirds of Safeway’s market share since purchasing the company in 2013.
Mr. Ready then met with Sobeys on May 30. The Section 106 proceedings will continue, although no future dates have been set as yet.